The price of coffee shot up 10 per cent in this week’s trading at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NEC) after a 14 per cent dip last week.
The increase was attributed to high quality beans that farmers and cooperatives supplied at the auction. In Tuesday’s auction, a 50 kilogramme (kg) bag was sold at Sh24,990 on average compared to Sh22,644 last week.
NCE chief executive Daniel Mbithi said the general demand for good quality coffee was evident with some lots selling at over Sh51,000 for the 50 kg bag.
“The auction witnessed increased demand for good quality beans and this is the main reason why the prices went up this week,” said Mr Mbithi.
The auction has been enjoying good prices since last month as the much-sought after high quality beans from central Kenya started trickling into the market. Harvesting of the main crop from the eastern part of the country came to an end last November.
The Coffee Directorate said the area under coffee cultivation had increased by 3,500 hectares in the last three years as traditional non-coffee growing regions embraced the cash crop.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Richard Lesiyampe said farmers in non-coffee traditional areas such as the North Rift had started growing.
“We have seen an increase in acreage under coffee as non-coffee growing regions have taken up the crop,” said Mr Lesiyampe during a coffee exhibition in Ruiru.
The European Union through the Coffee Productivity Project is expanding the area under production by enhancing access to improved coffee planting materials and providing technical information.
The project has granted more than Sh75 million to 28 coffee nursery owners in 28 counties to enhance capacity in propagating seedlings.
In the 2013/14 crop season, a total of 671,438 bags were traded at the NCE realising $174,151,187 in total revenues compared to 625,170 bags sold in the 2012/13 season valued at $127,164,779, improving farmers’ earnings from the auction by about 37 per cent in total revenues.
Coffee remains a major cash crop and top foreign exchange earner for the Kenyan economy and is ranked the fifth largest contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP) after horticulture, tourism, tea and diaspora remittances.
The industry contributes about 0.2 per cent of the national GDP, about eight per cent of the total agricultural export earnings and up to 25 per cent of the total labour force employed in agriculture.
Since early 1990s to the 2010/11 crop year, area under coffee shrank by 35 per cent from 170,000 to 109,795 hectares as farmers abandoned the crop due to poor management and returns.